Do the Photos We Capture Define Who We Are?

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I’ve been using a camera for about as long as I can remember. Not sure when I received my first Kodak but know it was sometime in elementary school. I took photos of everything to document what was happening around me, remember what I saw, and be a storyteller.

If you checked out my Rally to Restore Sanity photos on Flickr, then you saw the image below:

Rally for Sanity Oct 2010 T-Shirt: "I Screwed You But..."

T-Shirt at Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear, Oct. 30, 2010, Washington, D.C. Visit www.progressiverags.com

I took more than a couple hundred photos that day including those of carved pumpkins and goofy signs.

Rally for Sanity Oct 2010-Pumpkin Heads

Andy Geremiah and Scott Petersen with their carved pumpkins of Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, Reality to Restore Sanity, Oct. 30, 2010, Washington, D.C.

Rally for Sanity Oct 2010 Better Sign

"I Made a Sign" and "My Sign is Better Than His", Rally to Restore Sanity, Oct. 30, 2010, Washington, D.C.

Within hours of posting the George W. Bush T-shirt, it had more than 200 views. By the end of the day, it had more than 600.  At the time of this blog post (and just under a week) it has received more than 4,000 views. Typically, I’m happy if I break double-digits in viewership of my photos. Breaking 1,000 on a single image is…”Yowza!”

In addition to page views, I’m surprised at how many comments it has received. I try to have a tough skin but a particular comment it received, written by someone I do not know, disturbs me. The comment has inspired me to write this post and ask the question, do the photos we capture define who we are?

Here’s the comment a Flickr user made on the T-shirt photo:

“Those unable to discuss issues intelligently always hide behind race. YOUR true COLORS are showing, JenniferHuber. The pres is half white too or does that not matter?”

So, my thoughts reading into this comment:

This guy is making assumptions about me because I took and uploaded a photo. Rally to Restore Sanity was about political satire. This image fits into that and how some people view the current political situation. We live in the United States where we have freedom of speech. We may not always agree what that speech is, but it’s a right we have.

If someone takes a photo of a murderer does that mean the photographer condones the murder? Photographers captured images of oil-covered beaches and animals during the Deepwater Horizon Oil spill this summer, does that mean they condoned the spill?

Because I took and uploaded an image of someone holding a sign reading, “The 3 Commie Stooges,” with images of Fidel Castro, President Obama and Kim Jong-il, during the April 15, 2010, Punta Gorda, Fla., Tea Party, does this mean I believe Barack Obama is a Communist? Does it mean I’m a Tea Party Member? Does it mean I believe President Obama is a stooge? No. No. And no.

Punta Gorda Tea Party - The 3 Commie Stooges, April 15, 2010

Punta Gorda, Fla., Tea Party. "The 3 Commie Stooges" sign, April 15, 2010

As I did when I was younger, I take photos to capture life around me. Sometimes it’s not all about puppy dogs and beach sunsets. The Internet makes it easier for me to share what I see.

You can choose to view my images or not. You can choose to like what’s happening in my life or disagree. You do not, however, have the right to assume moments captured in my images represent my ideology.

What do you think? Should a photographer only take photos of what they “believe” in and filter out things they don’t?

Disclosure: You can purchase your own T-shirt from www.progressiverags.com. I have no affiliation with the company and am not receiving any compensation from sales of merchandise from the site. I met the guy very briefly after the Rally.

Author: Solo Travel Girl

Originally from Buffalo, N.Y., a hiking trail led Jennifer Huber, aka: Solo Travel Girl, to a career path in tourism. She has worked in the tourism industry for more than 20 years including 10 years with a park management company in Yellowstone, Death Valley and Everglades National Park. She currently lives in Southwest Florida, and maintains this travel blog with the goal of inspiring others to travel alone, not lonely.

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2 Comments

  1. I read the comment and I don’t think that person even understands what they wrote. It makes no sense. It is unclear whether they think you are saying you are supporting blacks or against blacks. I’m confused after reading that comment. lol Wow.
    Yeah…..maybe that person just wanted to be printed somewhere. Whatever the reason, It is doubtful they were 100 percent coherent when they sent that comment. In this case, the photo most certainly does NOT define who you are. You rock. End of story.

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